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tv   [untitled]    November 25, 2011 9:00pm-9:30pm EST

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hello i'm tom are going to washington d.c. here's what's coming up tonight on the big picture tonight we have a special conversations with great minds compilation show we begin with another look at my interview with bill moyers les spring the legendary journalist is an icon in american broadcasting and has had a significant impact on this country's political landscape and our conversation he shares his insights on the current state of the media in the united states and why our media has a responsibility to bring attention to the grassroots efforts of ordinary citizens
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to protect the interests of the middle class so here's another look at our conversations with great minds with bill moyers. merchandise conversations and great minds i'm joined by an icon of television journalism as resume includes being a founding organizer of the peace corps a press secretary for president lyndon johnson decades of reporting for both print and television outlets the most famous project was bill moyers journal that we put the television show that was one of the highest rated public affairs programs around television in two thousand and seven and two thousand and ten as many as two million viewers tuned in to hear what he had to say every single week and his accomplishments have not gone unnoticed as a recipient of more than thirty emmy awards and nine peabody awards as well as a slew of other honors and this month he released his latest book bill moyers
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journal the conversation continues because when he has something to say people listen that's why i am honored to be joined from new york tonight by none other than bill moyers bill welcome. i think oh my pleasure can imagine you were right there with all of that that's very kind of you you're one of those where people who have impacted both media and politics it's it's it's a remarkable life that you lived in during an interview with tab a smiley a week or so ago you said. television isn't. enough what did you mean by that and how and why did the word liberal a word that george washington was so fond of become a slur. well i'd actually didn't use the word liberal somebody interpreted what i said it to call for television to be public broadcasting to be more liberal and i think that's probably a logical conclusion what i said was that we need a greater diversity of voices in television including public television we have far
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too many establishment voices elite voices the voices of elite journalists to lead experts we don't have enough forces that come outside from outside of a sense of consensus and a real change ideas come from the margins and and press all of us to reconsider our conventional wisdom but what i was saying is we need fewer voices of corporate representatives more voices of working people we need more says of elite journalism and move forces of citizen journalists and if that's liberal then i plead guilty because that means we're open to diversity of opinion conflicts of of ideas and to a great plurality of put in the public dialogue that's what i mean by that you know there are many economists for example talk with james k. galbraith two weeks ago on this program who was interviewed in your new book who are prince has some mystic about the economic future of this country because the
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fundamentals economic fundamentals haven't shifted back to where they were before the reagan revolution if you agree with that thesis to what extent do you think that the media has played a role in turning politics into sports and keeping the public on. that politics has become a support is because a lot of the only lookers food media like to be entertained and amuse they like the blood and gore as the romans did the mcauliffe see him and know they're. it's very little serious alternative economic information in the mainstream media you know we have lost seven million jobs since two thousand and eight since the great collapse of two thousand and eight and james galbraith talks about this very vividly and in the new book as you said seven million jobs what is washington debating right now what's the mainstream you're what mirah is the mainstream media holding up to that debate they're debating deficits they're debating interest they're debating issues
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that have nothing to do with people who are out there who are out of work who are chronically unemployed who are struggling to keep their head above water that's why the carnival aspect of of the press is a great travesty of what we need to be talking about in this country apropos of that when when you started your career most of the news media americans consume from t.v. to newspapers magazines radio were locally owned by powers of companies and individuals and now as ben daggett can has chronicled in his book and the various editions of his books actually are that book the media monopoly over the last decade or two about ninety percent of all the news media now that americans consume is own door created by five giant corporations what are your observations on those years of transition and your thoughts on where we'll go from here. where were you go from here depends upon the public supporting alternative independent journalists
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like. maybe for a kind of work that i have done on public broadcasting. corporate journalist tend to be. tend to be tethered to the value system of the corporations they serve and that's really been perpetuated your own power we've seen as you said an enormous concentration of media power in the last twenty five years in particular and as that has happened as corporations have come to have a vested interest in the washington and washington politics. subsidies tax breaks special favors the journalists that tended not consciously but unconsciously to buy into those values into assume a way to to censor themselves so that they're not really telling the story and look at what n.b.c. did not do when n.b.c. when g.e. sold in b.c. to comcast it was very little coverage of this new merger of two corporate go i ass
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hole in the sea that's an example of how the media censors itself in response to the perceived values of the corporate giants they work for and it has meant that more and more they try to entertain it's the biggest change i think in the press in my time has been to look out and see a country of consumers not a country of citizens you can tell a lot about a producer or journalist a correspondent and editor if you think he or she sees an audience of consumers out there to be sold something. an audience of citizens to be informed and the big change in mind has been to shift the media's attention the media's focus to make society of. citizens to a society of consumers and for tamerlan problem as it were you you in your book one of the questions that you often ask knows this over the years is how
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they reacted to that and i'm curious how you've reacted to this change over the years and for example have you ever looked at the state of the nation or its media and felt to spare or are these challenges and changes actually invigorating to you see them as it's as you know. a sort of pick up or whatever the appropriate metaphor would be. i try to resist the disease of this prayer i mean i can understand why so many people feel so many people feel despair at the moment our of our democracy is dysfunctional we no longer hair go for the people representative democracy we have got to talk or seem to talk honestly means the rule of the rich for the rich brother rich and that's what we have to talk or see has one purpose which is to protect wealth and that's what we're seeing in the supreme court about what you've written so eloquently over the years and that's what we're seeing in our democracy i don't feel despair because i can't i can't function if i do right
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practice what the italian political scientists gramsci call the pessimism of the month and the optimism of the will by that he may add you see the world as it is and we journalists have to see the world without rose colored glasses we have to see the reality no matter how brutal it is but at the same kind of if you succumb to that through bad pessimism the nothing good ever happens so i wake up every morning trying to imagine a more confident future and then trying that day to do something about it that's what keeps me that's my despair and cynicism top. the message of my book is that democracy is in trouble democracy in america has been a series of narrow scapes and we may be running out of luck because as i said representative government is threatened at this moment by wealth power and
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corporate conglomerated interest but we can't give up the great progressive reformer of the last in the early part of the last if you robert of thought it said that the marker see is a life of struggle and frederick douglass said power never concedes anything without a struggle so each of us in our own way every day at the do something to fight the propaganda the silliman tallaght the and the pornography of politics do you even have said that you just said that basically this is no longer a democracy it's with ocracy it seems to me that we're not fully into that new frame but we're awful awful close to it hi how would you propose or what have you seen as viable ways to break the motion in that direction toward total basically oligarchy in the united states. and well i would expect
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a democracy. i think just as we witness an arab uprising in the middle east we need an american uprising we saw a hint of it in wisconsin in opposition to the right wing idiology being imposed there by the state legislature governed by but by conservatives and and the right wing government government and we saw people standing up and and demanding more dignity and and the protection of very interesting is the power of that state and all over the country i see examples of it i just met yesterday with a wonderful woman donna smith who works for the california nurses association who are fighting for medicare for all she has given up she was on her way from new york to washington to take part in it called big peaceful nonviolent protest against the health interests that are still trying to undermine the reform health reform of
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last year there's a remarkable young man you should have on your show. who twenty three years ago from mississippi unemployed journalists who are year out of morehouse has decided that that he can't just sit by and do four jobs trying to make ends meet he's out now organizing what's called us uncut to to lobby the government and the banks for the banks to pay their fair share of taxes all over the country they get no waves from the media they get no mainstream it to note no attention from the mainstream media but all over the country people are filing standing up we just have to make sure they get they get some some of the the attention that they deserve from the media that's the only thing i know organized people is the only answer to organize money so you've got to look around find a group that's working in the interest that that you think are important for the public good in this country join it and get up tomorrow morning and and they can
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fight it but the. we've had the fellow from us on and the d.c. representative actually on the program a couple of times and i've had them on their own gifts as well right and they're based on the uncut movement that started in the u.k. which was you know stop because it's the camera the administration's bring it in and in the u.k. that actually gets a lot of publicity because because of the b.b.c. and what not. yet either this morning or yesterday's the front page of the washington post was this giant photo as i recall was spain and it was like hundreds of thousands of people protesting the cuts that they're talking about these i.m.f. austerity cuts and things that may be coming down the road and yet there was no story it was just a pretty photo. how how is it that europe has vibrant journalism and we have infotainment. i don't nobody has a question except that there's
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a record of independent journalism in in europe it hasn't been corporate it has been bought by by huge conglomerations i mean some of it exists and coerced but there's also a tradition since world war two of europeans thought and for social democracy for a civil society that looks out to be interest and values of working people but we don't have in this country for thirty years in america since the reagan administration there's been a steady right wing corporate right wing a sole own the work on the rights of working people and well you know there was a story in the times the other day about those manufacturing jobs coming back to the midwest in this country but the jobs that are being created or pay one third of the jobs that were sent overseas paid so they have that history of this are our press loves this set when it's abroad but if you but they don't like this in at home they're made uncomfortable about it by the mainstream press because if that
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this sense succeeds it's the threat threat to the corporations for whom they work and to the relationship between the corporate and the corporate powers and the state powers that represent this this sort of tacit consensual seduction that is going on in this country of the rights and interests of working people very well said we're going to take a quick break and when we come back i'd like to get into. some of the back to the sixty's for a moment if we could and some of the things that are in your book we'll continue our conversations of the great minds with award winning journalist bill moyers after the break. drives the world the fear mongering used by politicians who makes decisions to break through get through an economy who can you trust no one who. as you view it with a global machinery and see where we had
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a state controlled capitalism is called satchels when nobody dares to ask we do our t. question morning. quarterback the conversations of great minds i'm speaking with an american icon bill moyers his latest book is titled bill moyers journal the conversation
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continues now bill welcome back to new you helped create the peace corps in one nine hundred sixty one wondering what that time was like and what did you and your compatriots have in mind for that institution and its impact on america in the world and further what might we learn now from those pretty heady times back then i remember the sixty's as a any time anyway. well the early part of the sixty's was a time of great idealism it was permissible to be idealistic that's when the civil rights movement in the south begin with the freedom riders of fifty years ago this very year began to really awaken the conscience of the country to what had been the brutal treatment for so long of of black americans i also on another front in another part of the country there was this beginning to believe that there was a moral alternative to war and that you to serve your country you didn't have to throw any uniform and go off and kill somebody you could actually go out in the
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peace corps and live in the neighborhoods in the villages of the world's emerging countries and provide a human service of personal contact representing america in the most basic delivery of of service and so i remember standing in the cold on january twenty first of the one nine hundred sixty one listening to john f. kennedy whose campaign i had served and listening to the new president a newly inaugurated president make that famous summons ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country and feeling that i wanted to be a part of a movement that expressed the affirmative side of the american experience so i found they go my way to work for the peace corps i was one of the founding organizers as you said became its tiffany director and our mission was to show americans that there was a new way of being in the world but in effect you had two passports one stamped
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united states citizen and the other stamped citizen of the world that was the the mission of the peace corps it is still important today to remember with humility and with gratitude that that there's a different way from being in the in the world as an american in swagger and. in the big stick that it's possible to live side by side with the world share and grow together toward a more of the state of being a greater understanding of each other you say that was the mission of the pre peace corps what. what has changed and when did it change when did that stop being the way that we saw ourselves as americans and and project ourselves out into the world . i think the militaristically our foreign policy has become over the years and you know we've had almost no year without with real peace in the world in the last
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twenty five years old always been some military action of one kind or another with the increasing militarization of american society and particularly with the trav it's a tragedy of nine eleven we've we've tended not to think of alternatives to national security being being the peace corps and the economic development and person to person relationships like a peace corps representative and tend to think of it in terms of you know surveillance all the methods in the military to the special forces and all of that that we have been trying to work for ten years after nine eleven the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives abroad of american soldiers and the trillions of dollars and in that kind of violent world in which huge forces of
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military forces or lose it's hard to think of one on one relationships between american citizens going abroad of the peace corps and the budget of the peace corps has been consistently cut because it doesn't have the aura that it wants to be it i've seen a lot of peace corps volunteers in the last few years they still do a terrific job out there very personally and be essential american bad years of friendship and openness and collaboration so it's still there thank goodness it hasn't disappeared even though there are far fewer volunteers than there were even twenty years ago. moving a little farther into the sixty's you were lyndon johnson's press secretary is from sixty five to sixty seven in the white house and if the reports that i've read are correct in october of sixty seven you told noddy in-sync cambridge the lyndon johnson saw the war in vietnam as his major legacy and as a result was insisting on victory at all costs even in the face of public
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opposition in your opinion is president obama now doing the same thing in afghanistan. well i think he's made the same mistake that in the johnson made in thinking that by escalating the number of troops he could find a he kind of ultimately triumph there the tragedy of the american presidency is that as we go to war and every life that's lost every ounce of blood that spill the president becomes more and more invested in quote victory because you don't want to you know want to have to send a message to the parents of those men and women who died there that it was in vain so that's the paradox of escalation which is you a detour bound to have more casualties and those casualties are almost bound to cause you to resolve further to win the victory that is usually elusive you know the great another great tragedy of the american presidency particularly of progressive presidents is that this is
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a continuing cycle woodrow wilson that like that in one nine hundred twelve is a very progressive. politician within two years was within a few years was taking us to war in in europe dr franklin roosevelt dr when the dr new deal became franklin roosevelt dr when the war after world war two happened harry truman had quite a progressive president. wound up taking us to war in korea and his domestic programs were consumed by by by the war and then johnson sitting on my mind my first job was not his press secretary i was responsible for much of the domestic policy civil rights environmental message economic policy and all of that and suddenly with the escalation of the war in vietnam in one thousand nine hundred sixty i saw all those hopeful possibilities consumed by about
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by the growing ravenous may ends of the military for more and more money and more and more to. i saw all our hopes about our great society disappeared in the quagmire of vietnam it was a very sad time of grief. for those who lost their lives were of americans and the enemies but it also represented the turning away from the possibilities of building a better society whole. if. you very well said if we could move back to the to the media for a second you were bush appointed kenneth tomlinson as the chairman of the corporation of a broadcaster and apparently he was a regular critic of you on p.b.s. you say there are times when i was threatened by radio stations to tone it down in your opinion are we. actually not even we is is the corporation for public broadcasting in general moving away from programming in the public interest. well i
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don't see any evidence of that yet the news corp you know there are good republicans and there are dangers republicans as there are good democrats and and bad democrats and the present president of the corporation for public broadcasting pat harrison is a public minded public spirited republican and i think she is really trying to fulfill the public broadcasting's mission of greater diversity more service of. the public interest trying to protect the independence of public broadcasting her predecessor kind of thomas that was a right wing operative he was a lady a logical kindred spirit of karl rove and i never will forget the day that one of the trustees of the corporation for public broadcasting called me on the phone and said i just heard chemist thomason who was then the chairman of the corporation for
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public broadcasting say i'm here to get rid of bill warriors that's that's not what pat harrison would we do and i don't know or i just happen to have watched her track record and think she is doing a good job but but but tom this is an old story in the ninety early nineteen seventies president nixon and his his his a propagandist pat buchanan tried to undermine public broadcasting tried to get me all thir tried to get. robin make me off the air tried to get sandy bit ochre off the air not because we were liberals but because we were reporting what they didn't want reported the alternative to the official white house mix only in view of reality robert doe who was then senator from kansas and senate minority leader tried in the late one nine hundred eighty s. to defund public broadcasting then along comes newt gingrich the late newt gingrich
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and night team ninety three and four trying to. fund public broadcasting and then you had george w. bush and kiss thomas and his henchmen at the corporation for public broadcasting trying to do the same first of all they don't believe in public funding of of of media as a matter of principle but secondly more importantly they do not believe there should be truth tellers who are countering the official view of reality do not like independent journalism let me repeat that is not true of the present president of the corporation for public broadcasting or the present president of p.b.s. paula kerger i believe they are committed to public television in the interest of the uninformed american public unfortunately for seven straight years public broadcasting's public television's revenue has been flat and the greatest challenge
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facing public television at the moment is in fact diminishing resources to do the kind of quality reporting and the kind of a great program me that the american people deserve bill moyers thanks so much for being with us here tonight it's better laws to keep it up to. the poor the boys out there in the independent world of broadcasting thank you thanks very much there. let's not forget that we had an apartheid regime.
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i think. even one well. whatever government says there's something safe get ready because your freedom. will. get us some measure see a story and it seems so sorely sleep you think you understand it and then even something else if you're see some other part of it and realize that everything is ok. i'm charging the big picture.
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